AnuTandon Vieira, a professional designer and Mumbaikar for 20 years, asked herself 4 years ago:
“What have I done with my life? What is it I want to do?” She wanted to make a differenceto the lives of the urban craftsmen, lured to this Megacity, from the hinterlands of India by a promise of opportunities and a better life.
Another issue that had always bothered heras a citizen was the waste from the small and medium industries that add to the mountains of garbage in the absence of any existing disposal policy. Since it is not economically viable to reuse this waste, it ends up in landfills. Paper, fabric, plastic, used tyre and a lot of other perfectly good material end up adding to the ever increasing garbage problem and the consequent environmental repercussions.
Here was her chance to make a difference, to bring together her concerns for the craftsmen and the city’s industrial waste and create something beautiful. She had once chanced upon beautiful rope made out of textile and tailoring waste, hand- made in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The rope is fashioned from diverse waste each strand a rainbow of colours, surely this idea could be taken forward.
She found a group of highly skilled cane weavers from Assam, Bengal, Bihar and Karnataka, and decided to develop a range of products that would showcase their skills using the industrial waste.
Retyrement Plan was born, using materials such as cane, bamboo and old tyre ( re-tyre) intricately woven over with waste rope, and a high level of design input, she came out with her first product, the first of a line of well-designed and detailed, contemporary furniture for the urban market. A weaver can take 2-3 days for a poufs and 4-6 days to weave a chair. He can make Rs 600-700 per day, regain a sense of pride in his traditional skill and maybe want to train the next generation to carry the craft forward.
This is what Anu had set out to achieve.
At Retyrement Plan, the emphasis is now on producing beautifully designed and woven pcs of furniture, without compromise, and finding markets that value them, and are willing to integrate this Upcycled furniture in their environment. The furniture is both for outdoor & indoor, includes poufs, cane chairs, planters, mirrors, cat scratch pads etc., all using recycled materials and traditional weaving skills, married to modern design. Every piece is distinct, giving buyers a sense of unique ownership.
Anu feels, the Web has contributed to help her create awareness, finding new markets, and building the brand. The response has been positive and very encouraging, she has received a lot of appreciation from friends and family, but the greatest and most encouraging compliment is when one of her weavers, on finishing a piece says “Madam, yeh to mast dikhtahai!”
The cities are spewing waste, there will always be cheap raw material to work with, but for RetyremnetPlan, the challenge lies in how much of this we can utilized The way forward is to work towards involving industries that create this waste, and have them integrate the products in their spaces.
For Anu, a freelance for 25 years, this is by far the most fulfilling project; “You have to don many hats being a working mom, but having said so I wouldn’t have it any other way, my work energizes me rather than tires me out”.
When asked about the challenges she had to counter, Anu said, “Working solo is both a boon as you can translate your vision into action and it works efficiently. However handling all aspects from design, sourcing, manufacturing and marketing can be stressful at times.”
Her goal is to provide livelihood to as many urban migrant craftsmen, preserving their precious skills and up-cycling as much industrial waste as possible.
For Anu, to make a difference she needs numbers, and the Corporates to step in.
Retyrement Plan’s products,unique and affordable are available in design stores in Mumbai,Bangalore,Goa and on http://www.worldartcommunity.com/
Written byOur Frontcover Desk